Public Health Program


Anton Avancena '12

Name: Anton L. V. Avanceña

Year Graduated: 2012

What are you currently doing?

I am currently one of three Research Analysts for Resource Mobilization at the Malaria Elimination Initiative of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Global Health Group. In 2014, I graduated from UCSF with an M.S. in global health.

Why did you decide to major in Public Health Science at SCU?

I started out as a pre-med student—as many PHSC majors do—but the field of public health captivated me. I appreciated, and was drawn to, public health’s approach to human health and disease, which is focused more on prevention and targeted interventions for at-risk populations as opposed to the treatment of individual patients.

Where did you do your internship for the PHSC major when you were a student?

I interned at the STD & HIV Prevention and Control division of the Santa Clara County Public Health Department.

How did the internship impact your education, or influence what you did after graduation?

My first job out of college was with the STD Control Branch of the California Department of Public Health, which reflects the topical interest in STD/HIV prevention and control that I had developed during my internship. Also, my supervisors at the county provided great recommendations that helped me land the state job easily.

I also think that having real-world experience in public health, however short, enriched my learning experience in the classroom. I saw public health in practice first-hand, and I started understanding the challenges that come with improving health from the public provider’s point of view.

What was your favorite PHSC class, and why?

Epidemiology (PHSC 100) – always relevant in any public health career and Race, Gender, and Public Health (COMM 164A) – a pivotal class that propelled me further into public health; this course helped me understand race relations and gender discrimination in the U.S. and their subtle yet profound effects on human health.


How did the Public Health program at SCU help prepare you for what you are doing now, or for your future goals?  

It allowed me to explore and think about different health issues and ways of addressing them. The interdisciplinary approach also helped me locate my interest in the field of public health.

What are your long term goals?

Spend three years in global health program management, policy analysis, and applied research. I wish to go back to school for a PhD in health policy analysis or applied health economics after work and hopefully move my way up a global health nonprofit or international organization.

What advice do you have for current public health students at SCU?

1.       Do more than one internship if possible. While I don’t support unpaid work, some volunteer internships can be great opportunities to network and gain important skills.

2.       Master a practical public health skill as an undergrad, particularly biostatistics and epidemiology (i.e., quantitative data analysis), scientific writing, grant writing, or research methods. These come up all the time, regardless of what role or position in a public health organization you end up in, and they are invaluable.

3.       Network, network, network! My jobs after undergrad and grad school were made possible by connections I had made—and nurtured—with experts in the field I wanted to work in. I cannot stress this enough!

4.       Master a second—or third—language. Global public health implies that you are working in settings that may not speak English. In order to be hired by a potential employer and eventually make a difference in those places, it’s imperative that you are able to communicate in the language that the country is comfortable speaking in.


We are looking forward to hearing what our alumni are up to. Please email us your current contact information and news.
Valeriote Goldman Symposium: Public Health & Social Justice